Firestorm 6.2.4: EAM and paving the way

On Monday, July 15th, 2019, Firestorm released version 6.2.4.57588 of their viewer.

However please note that this release is for Second Life only.

Essentially a  maintenance update, Firestorm 6.2.4.57588 brings the viewer up to parity with the official viewer, adding a range of fixes, improvements and updates from both Linden Lab and via the Firestorm team. The major new feature for this update is the Estate Access Management options.

As such, this release paves the way for Firestorm to be able to adopt the Lab’s Bakes On Mesh and Environment Enhancement Project, once these have in turn been released by Linden Lab.

Table of Contents

As per usual, this article provides an overview of the more visible updates in the release. Please refer to the release notes for a full list of updates and all associated credits. Also, note that this update means that version 5.0.11.53634 will be blocked from logging in to the Second Life grid in about three weeks.

A small personal note: my apologies to Firestorm users who may have been directed to this post by the Firestorm team’s release announcement or the Firestorm 6.2.457588 release notes and were unable to find it. My ISP suffered a major (8+ hour) outage some 90 minutes before the release was made, preventing me from uploading and posting this overview. 

Why A Second Life Only Release?

As noted above, Firestorm 6.2.4.57588 is for Second Life only. This is because Firestorm are changing how they support Second Life and OpenSim grids. You can read the full details in the official Firestorm blog post Second Life and OpenSim are No Longer Joined  at the  Hip, but in short, and in the future:

  • The Firestorm code is forked into two repositories: Second Life and OpenSim.
  • The Second Life dedicated viewer’s grid manager will only offer Agni and Aditi (SL main and beta grids).
  • The OpenSim dedicated viewer’s grid manager will NOT offer Second Life grids.
  • If you wish to access both OpenSim and Second Life, you will have to install both versions of Firestorm
  • the two versions will install entirely independently to one another and will not share settings or cache, so they will not conflict with each other.

To assist is identifying the two differernt grid versions, the Firestorm downalod pages has been changes to clearly differentiate between Second Life and OpenSim.

The revised Firestorm grid download selections

Note that at the time of writing, the OpenSim download page points to Firestorm 6.0.2.56680, which still works on both SL and OpenSim, and will use the same settings folders as 6.2.4. This will change with the next Firestorm update.

The Usual Before We Begin

As per my usual preamble:

  • There is no need to perform a clean install with this release if you do not wish to.
  • Do, however, make sure you back-up all your settings safely so you can restore them after installing 6.2.4.
  • Please refer to the official release notes for a full breakdown and changes, updates and credits associated with this release.

Lab Derived Updates

Firestorm 6.2.4.57588 brings the Firestorm viewer up to the current (at the time of writing) Linden Lab release viewer, version 6.2.3.527758, formerly the Rainbow RC viewer promoted on June 18th, 2019.In addition, this release includes some upstream fixes from current LL RC viewers, such as the HiDPI retina display support on Mac systems (Love Me Render RC).

Please refer to the Firestorm 6.2.4 release notes for details of specific Lab-derived fixes for this release.

Estate Access Management (EAM)

It has long been the case that the lists for managing access to a region / estate have been crammed into the General tab of the Region / Estate floater (World > Region / Estate or ALT-R). This has made the management of these lists – particularly the Banned list – difficult when reaching large numbers.

The Estate Access Management (EAM) project was introduced by Linden Lab to address the various shortfalls with the presentation of these list, through both back-end changes and a refactoring of the Region / Estate floater. Firestorm release 6.2.4.57588 includes the updated viewer UI, allowing estate owners and officers to make use of the improved tools.

In particular, the EAM moves the access control elements of the Region  / Estate viewer away from the General tab and into their own dedicated tab (show below).

Estate Access Management: as they have previously appeared (left) and as they are under EAM (right) – note: user names have been redacted from this lists shown

In terms of adding or removing names and groups, the new Access sub-tabs work in much the same way as the list boxes in previous releases. However, with the new design, additional functionality is added to some of the lists:

  • The Banned list additionally records:
    • The last date on which a banned individual logged-in to Second Life (to assist with housekeeping the list – if an account hasn’t been used in X months or years, why keep it on the list?).
    • The date on which an individual was banned.
    • The name of the estate officer / region holder who implemented the ban.
  • The Banned tab can be sorted into ascending / descending order by banned name, date last logged in, date banned, or by person banning them. Click on the column title to sort.
The Banned list provides more functionality: search, re-ordering, date banned, who did the banning (only applicable for banned implemented after the EAM back-end was deployed by Linden Lab earlier in 2019, pre-existing bans will have “n/a” in the new columns, as indicated by the Banned By column in this image. Note that names have been redacted from this list
  • The Estate Managers, Allowed and Allowed Groups tabs can be sorted into ascending / descending order by name. Click on the column title to sort.
  • The Allowed Groups, Allowed and Banned tabs all include a search option.
  • The number of allowed Estate Managers is increased from 10 EMs to 15 EMs – again in response to many requests from region holders.

Continue reading “Firestorm 6.2.4: EAM and paving the way”

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Firestorm 6.0.2: Animesh release

On Sunday, February 17th, 2019, Firestorm release version 6.0.2.56680 of their viewer, marking the official release of Animesh support within Firestorm.

This release is essentially a follow-on to the Animesh Early Access release made in December 2018.

Table of Contents

As I covered this in Firestorm 6.0.1: Animesh Early Access, aside from highlighting some of the more user-visible updates in that release, this article provides information on those updates specific to Firestorm 6.0.2.

Please use the table of contents above right to jump to any specific topic of interest. Full details of all changes, and contributor credits can be found in the official release notes.

The Usual Before We Begin

As per my usual preamble:

  • There is no need to perform a clean install with this release if you do not wish to.
  • Do, however, make sure you back-up all your settings safely so you can restore them after installing 6.0.2.
  • Please refer to the official release notes for a full breakdown and changes, updates and credits associated with this release.

Notable Firestorm 6.0.1 Updates

The following is a short update of some of the more user-visible updates present in the Firestorm 6.0.1 Early Access release, presented for the benefit of users who may not have downloaded that version.It includes both Lab-drived and Firestorm-specific updates. For a more detailed overview on that release, please refer to Firestorm 6.0.1: Animesh Early Access.

Animesh

For a detailed overview, see my Firestorm Animesh notes.

Animesh allows the avatar skeleton to be applied to any suitable rigged mesh object, which can then in turn be animated using suitable scripts and animations contained within the object’s Contents. This opens up a whole range of opportunities for content creators and animators to provide things like independently moveable pets / creatures, and animated scenery features.

While Animesh is likely to primarily be used by content creators, it has been designed so that any suitable rigged mesh can be converted to Animesh directly from the Build / Edit floater . Do be aware, however that simply converting an object will not cause it to start animating – you’ll need suitable animations and a script to run them. Like any other object utilising animation, this is done by adding the animations and scripts via the Edit > Contents tab for your converted object.

The best way to get started with Animesh is to use the available resources. These include:

Firestorm Animesh Additions
  • Derender Animesh: depending on your system, Animesh may impose some performance impacts, particularly where a lot of Animesh is active within a scene. To help mitigate this, Firestorm 6.0.2 includes an option to derender all Animesh in a scene (Developer menu > Rendering > Derender All Animesh). Note that this is only temporary, and derendered Animesh will reappear after a teleport or re-logging.
  • Auto-scaling amortisation of the new Animesh dynamic bounding box calculations. This fix limits the overhead of the new dynamic bounding box calculations to AvatarExtentRefreshMaxPerBatch per AvatarExtentRefreshPeriodBatch frames. The default is 5 avatars per 4 frames, so in a busy region, 25 avatars would take 20 frames to refresh the bounding boxes.
  • Performance tweaks by reducing Matrix operations per render pass.
  • More JointMatrix Palette caching tweaks:
    • The cache has been moved to drawable for more benefit (reduces CPU overhead when rendering shadows and materials by caching the jointmatrixpallette).
    • Sacrifices some potential cache locality but savings seem to outweigh this.

Other Notable 6.0.1 Updates

Additional updates in the Firestorm 6.0.1 pre-release worth noting are:

  • Mesh Uploader (for full details on the mesh uploader changes, please refer my Firestorm Mesh Uploader notes): Beq Janus has overhauled the mesh uploader to improve its use and the information it provides. She has also provided comprehensive documentation on these updates, which are summarised below:
    • Upload cost and physics cost calculation breakdowns – see image below for more.
    • Physics details, the costs of the different types of physics (convex hull, prim).
    • Resizable preview window with higher resolution image and improved shading/lighting.
    • Correct highlighting of degenerate mesh.
    • Improved error handling for physics models (avoid some MAV errors).
    • UV Guide overlay.
    • Note Firestorm 6.0.2 includes further updates to the uploader
  • Experimental Teleport Attachments Fix (Debug Settings > FSExperimentalLostAttachmentsFixKillDelay): a timer delay designed to prevent attachments from being detached temporarily after a teleport has completed.  Works with FSExperimentalLostAttachmentsFix when set to TRUE; set to 3 seconds by default.
  • Left-click None option (Build Menu):  allows transparent prims / mesh to be clicked-through that might otherwise be in the way when trying to touch other objects (via LL).
  • Auto Replace for Note Cards: dynamic replacement of text within note cards when the Auto Replace function for spelling is enabled via Preferences > Chat > Typing > Auto Replace (see the Firestorm wiki on Auto Replace).

Linden Lab Derived Updates in Firestorm 6.0.2

This version brings Firestorm up to parity with Linden Lab release viewers through to release version 6.0.1.522263 (formerly the Spotykach RC viewer, promoted on December 13th, 2019. Major updates in that release include:

  • Voice Server:
    • Second Life: Vivox version 4.9.0002.30313 (Mac and Windows) (Opensim: Vivox version 4.6.0017.22050 (Mac and Windows); Linux: Vivox native voice version 3.2.0002.10426, Firestorm only).
  • Chromium Embedded Framework (CEF) Dullahan:
    • Dullahan: 1.1.1080
    • CEF: 3.3325.1750.gaabe4c4.513446
    • Chrome: 65.0.3325.146
    • Page of test URLs for Dullahan. With the Developer Menu enabled (Ctrl Alt Q) press Ctrl-Shift-Z then the Home page button.

Firestorm 6.0.2 Updates

Appearance and Inventory

  • The Avatar menu includes new short cut for the Avatar > Avatar Health > Refresh Attachments option (Alt-Shift-R).
  • Replace Links – Delete links check box

    Inventory: Delete Links: the Replace Links inventory option now includes the ability to delete all links to an object:

    • Open your inventory.
    • Locate the object which has links you wish to delete (or one of the links themselves). Right click on the item / link and select Replace Links.
    • The Replace Links dialogue box opens, recording the object link name, the option to replace it with a new name and a new Delete Links Only check box.
    • Click the Delete Links check box to activate it. The Replace field in the dialogue box is replaced by the warning Links To This Item Will Be Removed.
    • Click Start to delete all links.
  • Experimental Lost Attachments Report (Debug Settings > FSExperimentalLostAttachmentsFixReport): when enabled, this reports attachments that were attempted to get detached during a teleport or region crossing to nearby chat.
  • Inventory should no longer automatically opening to show new items regardless of settings (FIRE-23476).
  • Enabling Disable Random Eye Movements (Preferences > Firestorm > Avatar > Disable Random Eye Movements) will no longer cause the avatar’s hands to splay (FIRE-23457).

Build Updates

  • Revisions and updates to the mesh uploader introduced in Firestorm 6.0.1
    • Allow intentional degenerate placeholders – this fixes the problem of “Physics mesh too dense” false positives (FIRE-23367 and FIRE-23387).
    • Allow override of client side mesh validation as a workaround for edge cases and different grid validation.
      This effectively restores previous server-side MAV error dialogues alongside client-side warnings.
    • Fixed up 3-point lighting (so it has 3 points) that was messed up in a rogue merge.
    • Fixed up black bar in mesh preview when the mesh uploader is used with low resolution screen (FIRE-23340).
    • Increased panel height to avoid warning message overlapping.
Mesh Uploader: new cost calculations breakdown elements by Beq Janus – see Firestorm 6.0.1: Animesh Early Access

UI Updates

  • Texture picker should no longer open the wrong floater when pressing space in preview mode (FIRE-23582).

RLVa Updates

Firestorm is still using RestrainedLove API: RLV v3.2.1 / RLVa v2.2.0.56680.

@setgroup Throttle

With Firestorm 6.0.2 @setgroup is throttled to one (unowned) call every 60 seconds across all objects. An object a @setgroup lock may bypass this throttle once, to allow @setgroup=n,setgroup:[;]=force to succeed regardless of any/other objects’ command history.

This will break all animated group tag cyclers introduced after the @setgtoup feature was added to Firestorm 5.1.7. However, it has been introduced at Linden Lab’s request due to the performance issues multiple frequent @setgroup calls were causing (each call generates a database write). Further, Linden Lab will shortly be introducing a server-side throttle to active group changes and group role changes, and so @setgroup will be broken in any viewer using it.

Please do not blame Firestorm or any other TPV using @setgroup for this change. There is nothing that can be done about it, given the forthcoming server-side throttle. We did attempt to contact all the sellers of these group title animators on the Marketplace many weeks ago to warn them that the feature had to be removed & sadly only one creator removed their listing.

Other RLVa Changes
  • New ‘RLVaSplitRedirectChat’ setting: splits long chat lines when @redirchat restricted.
    • Debug: RLVaSplitRedirectChat) – set to TRUE.
    • Menu bar > RLVa > Split Londe Redirected Chat
  • Fixes for:
    • @setoverlay_alpha causing a diagonal line to appear on the rendered texture.
    • @shownames exceptions should not have their name anonymised in nearby chat.
    • @shownames exceptions not having the correct colour on the minimap (FIRE-23473).

Other Updates of Note

  • FMOD Studio updated to version 1.10.10.
  • KDU updated to version 7.A.6.
  • Firestorm application icon should no longer randomly flash on the Windows 10 taskbar (FIRE-23498)
  • Fix for the camera floater zoom glitch (FIRE-23470).
  • Firestorm should no longer crash when adding a large number of users to a contact set.
  • Firestorm should correctly request microphone permissions on OS X Mojave (FIRE-23405).
  • The context menu in scroll lists (LLScrollListCtrls) can now be opened with the Windows keyboard (FIRE-19933).
  • Skinning and translation updates – see the release notes.

Feedback

Not a major update, unless you skipped the 6.0.1 early access. As with that release, the core element for 6.0.2 is Animesh, together with the revised mesh uploader for content creators.

Performance-wise, I’ve found Firestorm 6.0.2 to be equitable to Firestorm 6.0.1. Other than this, not a lot to report.

Links

Firestorm 6.0.1: Animesh Early Access

On Sunday December 16th, 2018, the Firestorm team issued Firestorm 6.0.1, which includes Animesh support.

Note that this update is being classified as a “public beta”, because further Firestorm-specific Animesh optimisations are being planned. This means there will be a further “full release” is being planned for  January 2019.

However, while Firestorm 6.0.1.56538 may be classed as a”beta”, it should be considered as stable and as bug-free as any previous release.

In keeping with my usual approach to Firestorm releases, what follows is an overview of the release, highlighting some of the more significant changes I feel will be of most interest to users.

Please use the table of contents on the right to jump to any specific topic of interest. Full details of all changes, and contributor credits can be found in the official release notes.

Table of Contents

 

The Usual Before We Begin

As per my usual preamble:

  • There is no need to perform a clean install with this release if you do not wish to.
  • Do, however, make sure you back-up all your settings safely so you can restore them after installing 6.0.1.

Note that as a beta release, Firestorm 6.0.1.56538 will not overwrite any existing release version of Firestorm you may have installed, but will be installed into a separate folder / location. However, note that swapping back and forth between this beta and another version of Firestorm will wipe your cache each time.

Lab Derived Updates

Core Updates

This version brings Firestorm up to parity with Linden Lab release viewers through to version 6.0.0.520636 (Animesh), including the recent Rakomelo, Quinquina and Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil Maintenance viewers, and incorporates Vivox Version 4.9.0002.30313 (Mac and Windows).

Animesh

For those who may be unaware of it (!), Animesh allows the avatar skeleton to be applied to any suitable rigged mesh object. This, together with suitable animations and scripts placed within the contents of the object, allow it to be animated in much the same way as the Second Life avatar. This opens up a whole range of opportunities for content creators and animators to provide things like independently moveable pets / creatures, and animated scenery features.

While Animesh is likely to primarily be used by content creators, it has been designed so that any suitable rigged mesh can be converted to Animesh directly from the Build / Edit floater (see below, left). Do be aware, however that simply converting an object will not cause it to start animating – you’ll need suitable animations and a script to run them.

Like any other object utilising animation, this is done by adding the animations and scripts via the Edit > Contents tab for your converted object.

Left: any suitable rigged mesh object can be converted into Animesh by adding animation scripts and toggling the Animesh check-box in the viewer. Right: one possible outcome of Animesh is that over time, it might discourage the use of alpha-flipping to simulate animation. This involves creating multiple versions of something like an animal (or parts of an animal) and then using a script to reveal them in turn, while keeping the other hidden with alpha masks. While it results in simulated animation (such as a squirrel climbing a bird feeder), alpha flipping is very performance / rendering intensive (r)
How To Get Started With Animesh

The best way to get started with Animesh is to use the available resources. These include:

Firestorm Animesh Additions

Derender Animesh: Despite the hoped-for performance improvements Animesh might allow when compared to alpha flipping, these will be the potential for performance impacts in regions / parcels with a large number of Animesh objects moving around.

To help mitigate this, Firestorm 6.0.1 includes an option to derender all Animesh in a scene (Developer menu > Rendering > Derender All Animesh).

Note: Derendered Animesh will reappear after a teleport or re-logging.

Also, Firestorm includes a number of other Animesh tweaks:

  • Auto-scaling amortisation of the new Animesh dynamic bounding box calculations. This fix limits the overhead of the new dynamic bounding box calculations to AvatarExtentRefreshMaxPerBatch per AvatarExtentRefreshPeriodBatch frames. The default is 5 avatars per 4 frames, so in a busy region, 25 avatars would take 20 frames to refresh the bounding boxes.
  • Performance tweaks by reducing Matrix operations per render pass.
  • More JointMatrix Palette caching tweaks:
    • The cache has been moved to drawable for more benefit (reduces CPU overhead when rendering shadows and materials by caching the jointmatrixpallette).
    • Sacrifices some potential cache locality but savings seem to outweigh this.

Other Lab-Derived Updates

Additional Lab updates worth noting are:

  • BUG-216339Add a  Click to: action to the Build / Edit floater to disable clicking objects that can be set per-object in a linkset – see Left-Click None Option, below, for more.
  • BUG-216416 – Add a transparency indicator for invisiprims. When “Highlight Transparent” (CTRL+ALT+T) is used, invisiprims will now be highlighted in green.
  • BUG-225670 – Include the full Windows 10 build number in Help > About Second Life and logs
  • TextureLoadFullRes setting no longer persistent, to avoid issues with accidentally setting it on systems which cannot handle the memory load.
  • The CTRL key must be held when dragging inventory folders into in-world objects. This change was primarily made to address accidental inventory “loss” by dragging a folder of no copy items into an in-world object.
  • Fix for your avatar not standing up after pressing Shift+Alt+S keyboard short-cut.

Continue reading “Firestorm 6.0.1: Animesh Early Access”

Firestorm’s Pets for New Residents 2018

Do you have a wearable / follow pet that you no longer use, and that is Transferable? Why not donate it to the Firestorm team for gifting to a new SL user this Christmas?

You may remember that in August, the Firestorm team ran a fun-raiser, asking people to donate their unwanted gacha items?

Well for the end of 2018, they are again asked for the donation of items – but this time with a very different aim in mind, as they explain in the following  Firestorm wiki article:

With Christmas around the corner we think of ways to spread the cheer and give gifts to those who are dear to us. This Christmas, how about extending that love to the ones brand new to Second Life, to let them see what a wondrous place they have entered with loving and generous people.

Every year we are presented with amazing new pets from talented creators and they seem to get better and better with each new creation. And although they are just virtual companions, these pets have the ability to make the times we are here without human contact seem less lonely. They transcend the realm of mere fashion accessories to a loving addition to this our Second Lives.

When the new loves come along, our past companions are packed away in a folder, maybe to come out another day. So why not make that day today and why not pass them on to be loved by another.

Many entering Second Life are shy and overwhelmed with learning the basics. Having a virtual friend and companion to share those first tentative steps with could make a world of difference. Just think your well-loved pet going on to give the warmth of friendship to another, touching their second lives and bringing joy to their hearts.

So for December 2018 make it a true month of giving and pass on your Ex-Loved pets so that they too get a chance at a Second Life.

Kindly contact Kio Feila and entrust her with your Ex-Loved Pets and know that they will be warming the hearts of someone new this Christmas.

Christmas is, as they say, the time for giving. So, if you do have a pet or pets now forever kennelled, caged or locked in a folder in your inventory, and which do have suitable permissions for passing them on to others,  why not follow the article’s suggestion and donate them so that they might get to have a second life with a new owner? Just drop a line to Kio via the link above!

Firestorm: fake website and downloads warning

There are always certain risks involved in on-line living. With Second Life, we’ve all likely seen or heard of various scams and attempts to either data-scrape or gain people’s account details through phishing and other means.

Another area of risk is using viewers from untrusted sources, making a careful checking of linking to TPV sites mandatory (e.g. by checking them through the Third Party Viewer Directory page on the SL wiki) – particularly when they appear in note cards or pop-up in group chat sessions, and so on.

I raise this because Firestorm has been the subject of fake accounts posting links to a completely fake Firestorm viewer website.

Group and individual IMs have been circulating from fake “Firestorm” accounts, pointing to a fake Firestorm website & viewer downloads – with the Windows download link infected

The website – note the addresses arrowed above – is a scam site that is particularly nasty, as the Windows download link is infected – see virustotal.com – and so should not be used.

For clarity, Firestorm’s actual web address is: http://www.firestormviewer.org/ – no “pro” or anything else in the URL. Furthermore, outside of their own support and test groups, Firestorm do not spam other groups or individuals with links for downloading their viewer.

Currently, the Firestorm team is trying to get the false site taken down, and Linden Lab are working with them to ban the fake accounts.

However, if you do receive an IM similar to the one shown above, fielding fake website URLs, or see a similar message in a Group IM or notice, please don’t simply dismiss it. Linden Lab have requested those in receipt on such messages / notices should file an Abuse Report.

When filing a report, make sure you take a screen shot showing the message / notice displayed in your viewer – the abuse report screen shot feature will automatically capture open IM windows, etc. Reports can be filed under the Harassment category.

If you need assistance with raising an Abuse Report, please refer to my Abuse Reports tutorial, written with the assistance of Linden Lab’s Governance team.

Firestorm viewer seeks volunteers

Are you a little bit crazy? Have a slight taste for personal suffering? Have you ever wondered what it’s like to develop a personality tic? You might be perfect for our team!

– From the Firestorm blog post on volunteers

This is light-hearted start to a blog post by Firestorm’s Jessica Lyon that has a serious intent: a call for assistance from Firestorm users willing to give some of their time to help support both the Firestorm viewer and the Firestom team’s other activities in Second Life.

As the most popular Second Life viewer (and a viewer with a strong following in OpenSim), Firestorm actually requires a lot of upkeep; not just in maintaining and extending the code either by exposing debug features provided by Linden Lab or through the provision of dedicated code contributions, but also in ensuring the viewer is fit for purpose ahead of any release and in providing that same vast user community with ongoing support and assistance.

As such, Firestorm is looking for volunteers willing to join the following teams:

  • Firestorm Support: helping residents solve problems they may encounter with installing and using the Firestorm viewer through the in-world support groups and by filing support tickets on the Firestorm Jira (bug-reporting system).
  • Firestorm QA Team: helping to ensure each viewer release is as good as it can be, by finding and reporting bugs (part of which means accepting frequent crashes). But it also means getting to see, use and test new features before the rest of the user base.

You can read more about the roles through the blog, and the Support Team Application Form.

Firestorm are also looking for people to help with work at the seven regions of the Firestorm Community Gateway

In addition, Firestorm is looking for mentors to help assist new users at the Firestorm Community Gateway. The work is rich and diverse, including providing insight, advice, and direction, responding to questions of every possible variation on the viewer and Second Life, helping new residents learn about the viewer and interact with the virtual world, and more.

Those interested in the role are invited to visit the Social Club at the Firestorm Gateway in world, where a red box can be found, offering an application form, which should be posted back to the box when completed.

Find out more via the official Firestorm blog post.